The committee appointed to draft the Articles in June 1776 met repeatedly and sent their draft to the individual states in November 1777, for their ratification. There were long debates on such issues as sovereignty, the exact powers to be given the confederal government, whether to have a judiciary, and voting procedures. In practice, the Articles were in use beginning in 1777. The ratification process was completed in March 1781. Under the Articles, the states retained sovereignty over all governmental functions not specifically relinquished to the national government.
On June 12, 1776, a day after appointing a committee to prepare a draft of the Declaration of Independence, the Second Continental Congress resolved to appoint a committee of 13 to prepare a draft of a constitution for a union of the states. The final draft of the Articles was prepared in the summer of 1777 and the Second Continental Congress approved them for ratification by the states on November 15, 1777, after a year of debate. In practice, the final draft of the Articles served as the de facto system of government used by the Congress ("the United States in Congress assembled") until it became de jure by final ratification on March 1, 1781; at which point Congress became the Congress of the Confederation. The individual articles set the rules for current and future operations of the United States government. It was made capable of making war and peace, negotiating diplomatic and commercial agreements with foreign countries, and deciding disputes between the states, including their additional and contested western territories. Article XIII stipulated that "their provisions shall be inviolably observed by every state" and "the Union shall be perpetual".